“Breathe in, breathe out, in, out, in”… I keep saying in my mind after glancing at my to-do list. I’m not in the Hunger Games, but suddenly I feel like the paper in front of me did put me into the middle of the game. The list’s not as long as The China Wall, but it’s getting there. Ambition isn’t short list-friendly, is it?
“You have as many hours a day as Beyonce, so sorry, no excuses” I remind myself, but my anxiety doesn’t like logic, so it ignores the hour part and replies with “she just woke up like this”.
I keep doing everything I can to… focus on something that is not on my list. Suddenly, all that is left of my beautiful productive plans in the evil list that burned me down. All jokes aside, the list could say “It’s not me. It’s you.” and that would be truth. Everything lies in the mind, and mine wants to defeat me.
Some people are more prone to burn-out than others, but it can probably happen to anyone at any stage of life. It has happened to me before, and believe me, it wasn’t pretty. The more ambitious you are the more burn-out can hurt you, but generally, it’s like a furious, betrayed woman – up to no good.
Since I had to learn how to avoid burn-out and make my life a bit easier here are my tips on how to avoid burn-out when you’re overloaded!
- Decide what’s important for you
Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, from my experience, it is not. We are bombed with tons of different content and possibilities, and sometimes it gets difficult to choose what we want to focus on when everything looks interesting. As you might know, I love podcasts, and I subscribe to many of them. The problem is that each and every of them is interesting, so I end up wanting to listen to every episode. Is it realistic, smart and achievable? Absolutely not, because I have an actual life to live.
How I solved my little problem? I chose what was the most important for me, and decided to listen to other podcasts if I have free time.
2. Step back from your work when you feel overwhelmed
A 20-minute walk, a few minutes of break to have your cup of tea or a quick yoga session can make wonders for your well-being and ease the tension within you that keeps building up, up, up with every extra thing to work on. It’s better to spend half an hour relaxing than hours fighting with anxiety that’s likely to appear if you don’t let yourself breathe. As they say: a stitch in time saves nine.
3. Take breaks
Even if you don’t feel overwhelmed, it’s good to take breaks at least every hour. The highly recommended Pomodoro technique includes 25 minutes of work, and then 5 minutes of a break, but I know people who like an hour of work + a 10-minute break system more. Do whatever works for you, but don’t ignore the importance of breaks, because you risk that your brain will ignore you later.
Let’s say you have already decided what’s important for you. Good job, but let’s not stop here! Important things probably also have their own hierarchy of importance. Choose the ultimate queen of your “very-important” list and prioritise everything accordingly to boost your productivity.
5. Think long-term
When you get overloaded with work and want to give it all up think about your ultimate, long-term goal rather than the emotions you experience in the given moment. It will help you to get some perspective on the situation. Also, if you push yourself too hard when you know you’re on the edge of meltdown think of consequences. Will one day of work make a big difference to your long-term goal or can you afford to unwind for a moment? Weight pros and cons and make your decision carefully.
6. Motivate yourself
It’s easy to get burn-out when the goal we work towards seems too distant, almost impossible. It’s worth to ask yourself these questions: why did I start in the first place? How will I feel when I have accomplished the goal? It may remind us about the ultimate reason behind it all and work as a motivator. Youtube motivational videos or Instagram quotes could also do the job, even though personal motivational will always beat them, since it’s… ours.
7. Reward yourself for your hard work from time to time
A little reward for your hard work might reduce the stress connected to your workload. Allow yourself to go out with your friends, buy that dress or see this place you saw on the map only. It will give your life more colors, and probably inspire you to keep going. Balance’s everything.
8. Leave some space for mistakes
Perfection’s a good friend of burn-out since they’re closely connected. The need to be always 100% perfect drains your energy like a professional energy vampire. It’s nearly impossible, or at least extremely hard, to always be 100% productive. Luckily here comes 80/20 rule. It’s very popular all over the internet and applies to different areas of life. I remember the model Miranda Kerr saying that she uses 80/20 rule in keeping fit, so it’s universal. The rule is simple: for 80% of times you’ll stay on track, the remaining 20% is your space for mistakes. This way you won’t beat yourself up every time you aren’t less than 100% efficient.
Here are all my tips for avoiding burn-out, but I thought you might like to see my ultimate 12 ways to unwind. Let me know if they work for you too, and feel free to write your own suggestions in the comment section, since sharing (your knowledge) is caring. 🙂
May productivity be with You,